Meek's all-night dash into Port-au-Prince

Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) decided late on Saturday that he wanted to go to Haiti to help earthquake-relief efforts. But getting there is the hard part, even for a congressman.

According to his staffers, the Senate hopeful didn't have a plane ticket, or a plan, so he started making phone calls. One of them was to a friend of Meek's, who said her hairdresser was from the Dominican Republic, Haiti's neighboring nation.

The woman called her hairdresser, who in turn said she had a brother in the D.R. who was a policeman, and who might be able to help Meek get into Haiti.

Armed with only one contact, and still no ticket, Meek headed for the airport on Saturday evening. He bought a seat on the last flight to Santo Domingo, and he would have missed it, were it not delayed due to weather.

Arriving on the island well after midnight, Meek met up with the policeman, who was off-duty, and Meek offered to hire him to make the six-hour drive to Port-au-Prince.

They arrived in the ruined city just as the sun was coming up. Within hours, Meek, a former Florida State Highway Patrol officer and a trained first-responder, was on a helicopter tour of the city.

His staff reports that Meek is staying at the U.S. Embassy, and he isn't sure when he's going to be back. For now, he's just "a guy with a backpack and an iPhone, trying to help."